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Rumor and Anger Mount in Libya

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Tripoli

This observer was stunned late last week when during a meeting in a Maghreb country with three high ranking former Libyan officials, among hundreds currently in hiding, and some organizing, in countries bordering Libya, one of them, in all earnest,  asked me,   “Do you believe there be a counter revolution  soon in the “Jamarariya [state of the masses, ie Libya]?”

The reason I was so surprised is that I was about to ask my hosts that very question.  I was thinking that with all their security and serious-faced male visitors, some western, coming and going and whispering that the reported Libyan Liberation Front groups along the Seral might be making some progress after not hearing much about them recently.

Of course I have little idea if the much talked of  ‘Green Revolution’ is strong or could topple the current NATO created and imposed government.

Certainly many complaints  can be heard today in Libya about the do-nothing “non-government” that increasingly people in all walks of life are boldly complaining about.  What I have observed personally is that nearly all the reports on events in Libya on certain internet sites are false.   This was also the case during the summer months here in Libya when patently false claims about NATO using MAP 108 Spanish manufactured cluster bombs against civilian or loyalist military targets,  NATO using depleted uranium, or that 150,000 Libyan civilians were killed were posted as truth “from reliable sources inside Libya.”  Or additionally wild claims, for example, that Misrata and other areas were always in loyalist control and that the rebels were surrendering en masse and that NATO was admitting defeat the next day.

A couple of recent false claims include a much circulated report last week that: “There are green flags flying all over Zawia and the Green Revolution has captured the town!”  Quite by coincidence the evening I read that claim on the internet, I had just come from Sorman and while en route was given a tour of the battle sites from the July-August fighting in Zawia by NTC (Transitional National Council) checkpoint minders. We observed most the intense battle sites including the Gadhafi Hotel site and various other Zawia locations.  I observed approximately 35 captured government  tanks parked along the main road and still in working condition but there was not one Green (pro-Gadhafi) flag to be seen.  I had just come from a cemetery outside of Zabratha where is saw local police/militia removing green cloth swatches from graves of some who had died during the summer fighting. Green flags if they appear in Tripoli are quickly remove and replaced with the tricolor of the NTC.

There have also been wild reports that Saif al Islam has married a Zintan tribe woman and has been seen taking walks with his captors and that they are defecting to his leadership.  According to the military commander of the Zintan militia group holding Saif, this is also nonsense and he claimed that the Zintan “brigade”  (none of the groups here like being referred to as “militia “ these days) are not preventing Saif from seeing a lawyer but that the permission must come from the Ministry of Justice in Tripoli.  Specifically,  from Mr.  Abdul Aziz Hazaii, Chief of Investigations at the MJ and the gentleman from whom this observer is currently awaiting approval to visit 11 incarcerated individuals.

All of us know that misinformation and disinformation are common during armed conflicts, often politically motivated. But such grossly exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims and conspiracy theories only aid the aggressors, in this case, NATO.

There is clear and growing pro-Gadhafi political and military activity here and it is why NTC leader Mustapha Abdul Jalil, the other day warned against the Gadhafi children raising an insurrection.  Aisha Gadhafi, given Saif’s current incarceration, is perhaps the likely leader.

Every night more pro-Gadhafi graffiti appears on street walls, buildings and around Green (Martyrs Square).  Activists, and there appear to be more every day, assert that so far the NTC has not attacked them and they feel fairly free to speak  out and even organize.  It is anyone’s guess how long this situation will exist before a violent crackdown and open fighting.

It is difficult to gage the anti-NTC/ pro-Gadhafi mix and the extent to what extent each is propelling increasingly unpredictable event in Libya.

Yet, with the elimination of Muammar Gadhafi, which was NATO’s clear intention from March 19 when it took over the UNSCR 1973 campaign against Libya, NATO correctly concluded that without Gadhafi, any “Green counterrevolution” would be very difficult. That is what we are seeing today.

 

While the restive Libyan population appears to be rebelling against the NTC for a variety of reasons, today, the urinating by NATO forces on the bodies of Afghanis is dominating the news and discussions is this pious Muslim country.  NATO has already lost much of its claimed public relations boost following its Halloween night ending of the bombing.  One suspects that this is because of an accumulation of many more recently discovered cases of NATO bombing of civilians in Libya. The population today in Libya is increasingly furious because more and more cases are coming to light concerning the high numbers of children who have been killed by NATO.

In addition to the fury caused by the urinating GIs, NATO officials are being ridiculed for all their denials that their bombing missions here in Libya, numbering more than 11,000, caused civilians deaths and their claims that NATO forces conducted themselves according to  higher moral and military standards, and sometimes put themselves at risk to avoid civilian casualties. The claims remind some of a generation of similar ludicrous public relations campaign undertaken regularly by the Israeli government.

The signs from Libya are that this country remains volatile and that contrary to NATO claims that it put into place a “new democratic Libya” that the predictable next chapter is starting to unfold that may bring the end of the NTC before the coming June elections when it is scheduled to be replaced.

FRANKLIN LAMB in doing research in Libya and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmal.com

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

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